DALLAS (August 20, 2021) — Dallas non-profit executive Jessica Whitt Garner is the new Chief Advancement and External Affairs Officer at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Garner replaces Kerri Cleghorn Lai, who led DHHRM’s advancement team for more than six years.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jessica as the Museum’s new Chief Advancement and External Affairs Officer,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President and CEO. “Her background in fundraising, marketing, and communications is impressive and makes her a great fit for our advancement team. We look forward to seeing her help the Museum continue to grow, prosper, and advance our important mission in the years to come.”
A highly experienced development and public relations professional, Garner has served in key roles at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and most recently as the Director of Development for the SMU Meadows School of the Arts, where she led critical fundraising efforts for annual operations, endowment funding, and capital improvements.
“I’m excited to join the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum,” said Garner. “I feel honored to be part of such an important cultural organization in our community.”
After earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing with academic honors from The University of Texas at Austin, Garner began her career in nonprofit arts management as the External Affairs Manager for the Arts District Friends in Dallas.
Garner went on to become one of the early staff members of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, the foundation which oversaw the campaign to design and build the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas Arts District. She planned and produced more than 75 events, including the spectacular groundbreaking and grand opening events.
After the Center’s opening, she became the Associate Director of External Affairs, facilitating institutional communications efforts and overseeing the Center’s brand management, strategic planning, and board relations. Finally, she served as Director of the Capital Campaign, working with board leadership to raise $27 million to retire the Center’s construction debt.
In 2018, Garner left the Center to become the Director of Development for the SMU Meadows School of the Arts, overseeing and implementing fundraising for its academic divisions and its centers, including the Meadows Museum. She secured six- and seven-figure gifts for annual operations, endowment funding, and capital improvements, including a $34 million campaign to renovate the Owen Arts Center academic building.
Garner began her new role at the Museum on August 9, 2021.
About the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
The mission of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. Initially conceived in 1977 by local Holocaust survivors, the institution now resides in a brand-new facility in Dallas’ Historic West End where visitors experience a deeper immersion into human and civil rights, their centrality to our democracy, and their vital importance in preventing events like those of the Holocaust from happening again. The 55,000-square-foot permanent home covers three floors, and the main exhibition includes four wings: Orientation Wing, Holocaust / Shoah Wing, Human Rights Wing, and Pivot to America Wing. Please visit DHHRM.org or call (214) 741-7500 for more details.